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Not really. Spain is able to strip mine Somali waters, France has intervened in half a dozen African countries over the last 10 years, arms sales to proxy governments lets the natives do the shooting, the IMF and world bank act as the polite ambassadors of the combined military forces of the "west" ...

My contention is that the economic fruits of colonial looting can survive for quite some time on the inertia of economic structure and government - but that time is running out.

by rootless2 on Thu Apr 19th, 2012 at 07:11:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, that is not in dispute.

What I am saying is that I'm not clear on how Europe needs any of that, to such an extent that it going away would create a serious crisis.

The world changes. Sometimes it changes in your favour, sometimes it changes in someone else's favour. To say that "Europe's problem" is that the world is changing in someone else's favour is to give "Europe's problem" an air of inevitability that it does not necessarily deserve.

That is, is the problem that Europe fundamentally cannot deal with this reality and remain a comfortable place to live, or is it merely that Europe is currently politically unwilling to deal with reality? And in the latter case, is Europe's problem really that the world is changing? It would seem to me that in that case Europe's problem is that it has an obsolete political structure.

This is a crucial point, because it is the difference between operational and political constraints - that is, between having to change the world vs. only having to change your mind. For all the difficulty in effecting political change, it is a great deal easier than changing the laws of nature.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 04:19:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not clear to me that the vestiges of colonial privilege are of any great advantage. (One indication is that Germany has no such economic heritage.)

Shell, BP and Total are profitable companies, but they no longer impose leonine contracts on the former colonies, they operate at market prices, more or less. Strip mining of the seas is open to anyone with a factory ship; the biggest hit is possibly in the armaments industry, but I guess we'll just have to bite that bullet.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 04:48:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not clear to me that the vestiges of colonial privilege are of any great advantage. (One indication is that Germany has no such economic heritage.)

Greece would argue to the contrary.

Flippant counters aside, Germany has been benefiting from first the British and then the American imperial order, because they were inside it but big and strong enough (and had enough white people) that they were not reduced to a colony.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 04:54:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Me and my friends steal all your belongings. Then our children hire your children to work for pathetic wages. Of course my children are not benefiting from my theft, just engaging in commerce.
by rootless2 on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 09:25:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
John Stuart Mill:
The social arrangements of modern Europe commenced from a distribution of property which was the result, not of just partition, or acquisition by industry, but of conquest and violence: and notwithstanding what industry has been doing for many centuries to modify the work of force, the system still retains many and large traces of its origin. The laws of property have never yet conformed to the principles on which the justification of private property rests. They have made property of things which never ought to be property, and absolute property where only a qualified property ought to exist. They have not held the balance fairly between human beings, but have heaped impediments upon some, to give advantage to others; they have purposely fostered inequalities, and prevented all from starting fair in the race.


guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 09:31:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great quote - which work is it from?
by rootless2 on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 09:51:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Principles of Political Economy, which I diaried a while ago.

That quote is from the same paragraph that contains "the principle of private property has never had a fair trial in any country".

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 10:06:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice diary.

Here's an online source

http://www.econlib.org/library/Mill/mlP14.html

by rootless2 on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 10:50:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mill:
Private property, in every defence made of it, is supposed to mean, the guarantee to individuals of the fruits of their own labour and abstinence.

Indeed.

by kjr63 on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 04:13:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe needs that advantage to continue having a high standard of living with the kind of economic/political organization now in place. Clearly that's not an optimal organization for the third world, the people of europe, or the environment. But I don' see much recognition of the level of change that would be needed to compensate for all that going away.
by rootless2 on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 08:16:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rootless2:
But I don' see much recognition of the level of change that would be needed to compensate for all that going away.

or indeed the recognition of the effects of all the cheap immigrant labour taking these right wing goons seriously and all going home...

to my semi-educated view, it seems factual that many of the great concentrations of wealth in europe, be it in the royal houses, banking giants like rotschilds, uber-industrialists like the krupps etc were all aided enormously by the conquest and occupation of the third world, be it for resources, and then captive markets, (the english/indian cotton, for example).

the influx of gold from the iberian colonies in central.south america may have had disequilibrating, inflationary effects on european economies, but the wealth was arriving, and fortunes were made, then invested wisely on the hubbert upswing to create the fiction that 20% returns were the norm for cautious investors. if fiction perseveres long enough it becomes as near to fact as makes no difference.

it becomes an axiom, and only those with long term historical memories can see the pattern of past bubble/busts, and thus through the illusion.

capitalism did spread a lot of wealth downwards to a burgeoning, and increasingly well-educated middle class, forming a new elite of the cunning, rather than the blue-blooded. this is the base for randian celebrations of the driving force behind the growth of the last two centuries of industrial economies.

but now the elite has formed itself above the clouds of toil and care again, and once again is believing in its own myth of divine selection and rights. onceagain it is stealing not just from the poor, (the middle class is totally cool with that), but from the middle class itself. blind greed has taken over...

the poor have few tools to organise and affect macro events, but it's a different story with and educated, disaffected middle class who have put up with a lot of feeling inferior to their 'masters' anyway, and now feel betrayed by the unwritten pact between the two rich classes, that they would do the upper class 1% shitwork, (the kind that you do from a desk, an HQ, a parliament, civil service position), in return for being able to look down on the dalits who really do the shitwork of going down mines, working sweatshops, infantrypersons in wars with no honour and the like.

europe was a metaphorical middle class between the fabled riches of the american empire in flush, and the wretched hordes of foxconn asia, and now as the orient's wealth waxes, and america's wanes, we still want that gig, understandably.

the only possible hope for us to deserve, let alone retain that semi-privileged position would be to power up the alternative energy tech, (in which we are already world leaders, and ramp that sucker all the way up, a thousand or more times what it is now, while we still can).

it's a faint, but hitherto undying hope, indeed it is a very thin thread to find our way out of a very dark labyrinth. of course there will be much buggy whip collateral damage, but whichever course is taken that'll be the case, the faster we come to grips with this reality the brighter our future will be.

the alternative might be the horse and cart for us, in which case the buggy whip makers will thrive likely as well as bureaucrats and bankers...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 12:20:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with pension funds is probably the very idea of pension funds.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 12:21:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rootless2:

My contention is that the economic fruits of colonial looting can survive for quite some time on the inertia of economic structure and government - but that time is running out.

I would place the break to real decline at de-colonisation (with a half-century long plateau phase before that). Yes, the former colonial powers still put up fights, and the US took over much of the structures, but the world is clearly (but slowly) changing.

I would however argue that the US faces the same problem and probably more so. Europe is being free-riders (like the neocons complained about). But being free-riders on the colonial system appears from the historical experience of Europe not to be a bad deal (Germany being a prime example).

I would also argue that the de-colonization era showed that the west no longer holds the kind of military and technological edge that allowed the establishment of the colonial system in the first place. And despite neocon fantasies, modern weapons has not changed that, as Iraq and Afghanistan has showed.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 05:44:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It has nothing at all to do with the lack of a military or technological edge, and everything to do with lacking the guts to behave like some of our asshole forefathers. Genocide and conquest just doesn't feel ok to Europeans anymore, not even when it's done to brown people. Blame Stalin and Hitler.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 07:59:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe you are taking European marketing too seriously.
by rootless2 on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 08:17:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Useful reading, even if not exactly the thing I was refering to.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 08:33:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pinker's book is powered by a very silly view of history, in my as always humble opinion.

The 20th Century was a spectacularly violent century - declaring victory seems a trifle premature.

What I think is correct is that we have both pre-packaged meat that one can eat without thinking of slaughterhouses and pre-packaged poor people extracted wealth that one can consume without thinking about secret police and mass shootings.

by rootless2 on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 08:37:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was far less violent than certain other periods, especially on a per capita basis. World war II ranks a pretty weak six when we look at the bloodiest wars on a per capita basis. Worst is the An Lushan rebelllion of 755-763, which killed one out of every seven people on the planet.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Apr 21st, 2012 at 07:15:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but it's hardly established fact.

And the 60million or so who perished in WWII are not diminished by noting a larger world population at the time.

by rootless2 on Sat Apr 21st, 2012 at 12:23:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this is a silly debate. For instance, on what basis can we claim that the 100 years' war or the 30 years' war were more or less traumatic than WWII for the people involved? Or, to what extent are the Napoleonic Wars (from Portugal to Russia and all the way south to Egypt, and lasting 15 years) not a "zeroth world war"?

In that sense, the 30 years' war ushered in the "Westphalian" system of international relations and is far more important in its systemic implications than even WWII since the international system that emerged form WWI (UN bodies, Bretton Woods, NATO) was never considered as superseding the Westphalian system but only in the last decade or so people have started talking about post-Westphalia. This means the 30 years' war is a watershed event on a scale of 350 to 400 years, which WWII was not. As fas as traumatizing Central Europe, it was on a par with WWII as well, with a much higher per-capita mortality rate and lasting 5 times longer.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2012 at 05:58:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but it's Pinker's silly argument. He wants to show that aggregate human violence is decreasing which actually may be true but would need a much better argument.

In any case, even if aggregate violence were decreasing, the evidence of EU humanism and scruples is hard to find.

by rootless2 on Sat Apr 21st, 2012 at 06:54:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Complex systems have lulls. Diary tomorrow.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2012 at 06:56:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking at the conflicts that forced decolonisation, I see no lack of guts to be assholes. I see technology transfer and - perhaps of equal importance - cultural transfer progressing to a point where the local leaders could defeat their overlords.

Yes, nowadays genocide is not popular but the colonial empires were not lost in the 21st century.

For an example of present guilt and post-war brutality

For there is something peculiarly chilling about the way colonial officials behaved, most notoriously but not only in Kenya, within a decade of the liberation of the concentration camps and the return of thousands of emaciated British prisoners of war from the Pacific. One courageous judge in Nairobi explicitly drew the parallel: Kenya's Belsen, he called one camp.

The uprising by a secret sect, the Mau Mau - impoverished Kikuyu demanding the return of their fertile lands - led to the deaths of maybe 20,000 men and women, many after torture and internment. Thousands more died in the violence that tore apart Kikuyu families on opposing sides of the dispute.

With the tacit consent of ministers at Westminster, a British administration in colonial Kenya chose to behave as if Africans had no human rights. Rattled by a handful of murderous attacks on planters, they tried to face down the rebels using the empire's default setting of brutality. Castration, sodomy, rape and beatings were everyday weapons in its unremitting defence of the rights of the white settlers.

Can you point me to a post-war conflict in any of the colonial empires where the empire folded because they did not like to be assholes anymore?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Apr 20th, 2012 at 03:09:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A swedish kind of death:
Can you point me to a post-war conflict in any of the colonial empires where the empire folded because they did not like to be assholes anymore?

Let me see: Madagascar, no, Indochina, no, Algeria, no.

Now we can ask ourselves why De Gaulle's Fifth Republic, established in 1958, decide to organize referendum in pretty much all the remaining colonies which led to independence in the early 1960s: apparently the French leadership had lost appetite for retaining (most of) what was left of the Empire but whether this was because they didn't like to be A-holes anymore is unclear to me.

by Bernard on Sat Apr 21st, 2012 at 04:56:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you point to any single post-war conflict where a former colonial power removed all restraints and did all they could to win, like they used to do?

All those three conflicts you mention are conflicts where the French didn't do everything they could to win: not because they couldn't, but because they didn't have the political will to be brutal enough. Which is, of course, a good thing.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Apr 21st, 2012 at 07:23:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What the colonial powers used to do was send a relatively minor force that crushed all opposition. There was no threath of the homeland being invaded, so doing all they could to win was never really on the table. What do you mean that France could have done to win either of these conflicts?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Apr 21st, 2012 at 08:19:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sending conscripts in Indochina for example, as was done in Algeria (where indeed the perception for many French people was that the homeland was threatened...)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2012 at 09:23:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, north Algeria was part of the French homeland, so they were right even if the Moslem inhabitants might have seen if differently. But I guess there was not an idea of the FLN actually invading Metropolitan France, was there?

Anyway, that gives us a metric. So conscripts was not used in Indochina after wwII. Were they used before wwII? Otherwise wwII did not change anything in that respect.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Apr 22nd, 2012 at 03:58:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What would Genghiz Khan can do? Hama Rules. Nuke everyone.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Apr 22nd, 2012 at 05:51:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and lastly through a hogshead of real fire.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Apr 22nd, 2012 at 03:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So they nuke everybody, then what happens to access to markets and resources (and their officials and colonisers on the ground)? Compared to what happens if they cut a deal with the revolutionaries?

I'll add that Gandhi (educated in London) saw one of his objectives as making India unprofitable for Britain to keep, that is part of why he pursued such goals as circumventing the salt tax and producing cloth in India.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Apr 22nd, 2012 at 03:38:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So they nuke everybody, then what happens to access to markets and resources (and their officials and colonisers on the ground)?

You get a colony like Canada, Australia or the US, empty of problematic people but full of resources.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Apr 27th, 2012 at 06:37:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But to use that you need surplus population to re-populate with. And in the post-wwII era the european countries had already ran past the drastic expansion of population phase of the demographic transition. Kris i befolkningsfrågan (Population crisis, famous Swedish book form the 30ies arguing far-reaching measures to stop the fall in number of births) and all that.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Apr 27th, 2012 at 07:46:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As you might remember, the measures suggested in Kris i befolkningsfrågan actually led to radicaly increased nativity. Furthermore, having a large population just seems like such a bother. Few people, lots of natural resources, what's not to like? Well sure, it might be a bit hard to defend your resources from greedy populous nations who want to take your wealth, but that can be managed with conscription to provide the sufficient manpower.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Apr 27th, 2012 at 10:47:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you're thinking in terms of the national interest. That's the wrong way to think about colonial adventures.

The interest being served is that of the private actors who get to set up shop in the colonies. The national interest is served only incidentally, if at all. And it is not in their interest to have to rely on scarce domestic manpower for exploiting untapped resources.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2012 at 12:33:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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